Once again a question that inspired me to try something. Actually I have been thinking for a while about trying to implement a feature like the one in Docker desktop that lets you use
host.docker.internal to connect to the localhost of the host machine. I think I have done it.
host.docker.internal is not just a hostname that directly points to the IP address of your host. It will point to the “host gateway” which can be configured but it is
172.17.0.1 by default which is the gateway of the default docker bridge. I will get back to this later.
You can actually add multiple aliases to that endpoint in your container using the special keyword “host-gateway”:
docker run --rm --add-host myhost:host-gateway nicolaka/netshoot ping myhost
It is important to use your host alias on the left side and the keyword on the right side in the value of
--add-host. Now the ping command will return something like
192.168.65.254 depending on the subnet of Docker Desktop and not
172.17.0.1 because in Docker Desktop the
---host-gateway-ip parameter is set to a proxy ip and forward any request sent to any port to your host machine’s localhost probably using unix sockets and TCP sockets together.
You could use
--host-gateway-ip on Linux without Docker Desktop, but that wouldn’t help unless you also run a proxy server on that IP. If you do that, you still need to configure a proxy server that forwards every request to the hosts localhost on the same port. You could do that probably but why forwarding every request when you can limit the access to the loopback interface on specific ports to specific containers.
This is my test compose file:
You can run a test service (I used python)
python3 -m http.server --bind 127.0.0.1 9999
Then you can test it in another terminal:
docker compose exec test curl host.docker.internal:9999
- The “test” container is really just a container that has curl so I can test the ports. It is important to attach this container to the same network as th container called “to-unix”.
- The container called “to-unix” uses alpine/socat to forward the request from the TCP port 9999 to the unix socket “var/sockets/to-unix.sock”, but that socket is in a folder which is mounted from the host.
- The “to-unix” container also has a network alias
host.docker.internal, but you could use any name. I just wanted to show that you can use this too.
- The container “to-localhost” uses the host network, mounts the unix socket from the host and forwards all requests from that unix socket to the host machine’s localhost.
Some additional notes
- You could create multiple forwarder containers like “to-9464” and “to-80”, but then you couldn’t use the same network alias for all forwarders…
- You could also use this solution to forward UDP ports, but I only demonstrated TCP ports.
- I used a single compose file, but you could have separate compose projects for the forwarders and when you want a container to have access to a forwarder, attach the forwarders’ network to the container.